Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

The Sobieski house by Koning Eizenberg Architects is in South Pasadena. Jamie and Anne-Elizabeth Sobieski are in the kitchen with the swimming pool in the foreground.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Ringo, front, and Hula at the entrance to the Sobieski house, designed by Koning Eizenberg Architects, in South Pasadena.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Inside the play house at the Sobieski home, designed by Koning Eizenberg Architects, in South Pasadena.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

The Sobieskis at their home, designed by Koning Eizenberg Architects, in South Pasadena.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Edward Kelleher, left, in his Silver Lake home designed Guy Vidal, right, and Karen Vidal. The striped stairwell serves as a transition from public living areas on first floor to more private upstairs areas.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Architect Robert Stone stands in the outdoor living of Rosa Muerta, a place he spent three years building in Joshua Tree, Calif. Ceiling mirrors reflect the room in a mirage like image. Concrete steps and benches frame the fire pit opposite the spa and offer space for guests to put their sleeping bags if they choose to sleep directly under the stars.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Gabriel Ramirez climbs the rock climbing wall while his older brother Daniel sits on the play loft in their bedroom at Bob Ramirez and Lorri Kline-Ramirez's home in Santa Monica. The house was transformed from old English cottage into lively tropical retreat.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Gabriel Ramirez holds a koi in the backyard pond at the Ramirez house in Santa Monica. One of Ramirez family's first projects was flooding the backyard to create the pond. Now it is stocked with koi and water lillies.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

The Eastern Columbia's landmark clock tower is lighted every night; its newly restored facade reflecting in the rooftop pool.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Lynda Taylor looks out the window of her home along a canal in Venice, Calif. Taylor, 61, sold her home in Pacific Palisades built a new home in Venice.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Some wrote off this house as a 1970s disaster, but not L.A. Modern Auctions owners Peter and Shannon Loughrey. Twin 12-sided structures are filled with prime views and rustic beauty.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

A student rides his bicycle on the freshly painted basketball court at the newly remodeled Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity house at USC. The graffiti-laden frat house was been remodeled by Mass Architecture principal Ana Henton into a residence that looks downright Dwell-worthy.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

A view of the Pacific Ocean can be seen through a dining room window of Chuck Arnoldi's house in Malibu. Arnoldi designed the house.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

The home of Louise and Aziz Farnam in Santa Monica is covered with an artful custom mosaic.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Designer Johnson Hartig, the L.A. based half of the design duo known as Libertine, visits with friends in his L.A. home. Hartig, forth from left, threw an impromptu pool party with his guests.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Charles and Ray Eames' historic residence in Pacific Palisades is the subject of a forthcoming LACMA exhibit. The Eames House is one of the most important examples of modern residential architecture in Southern California.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeArantanha / Los Angeles Times

Drag queen Jackie Beat, working with vintage decor specialists Senor Amor and Jonona Amor, created a home in Highland Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Jonathan Sela cooks lunch in the kitchen while his 3-year-old son Indika Sela plays with a toy truck on the dining room's polished concrete floor. This Venice home was designed by architects Marmol Radziner.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Detail of the ventilated fruit cupboard of the newly remodeled kitchen at the home of Emily Green.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

The garden at the home of Andrew and Laura Golder calls upon small, thoughtful details to collectively make a big change in the ambience. Garden designer Michael Schneider created a framework for the homeowners to incorporate artwork that reflect their personal taste.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Ten-year-old Sasha climbing the steps to her tree house at the home of architects Carlos Zubieta and Tatiana Barhara, in Venice. When husband and wife architects went to expand a 650 square foot house, much of their focus went not to interior space but rather the outdoors, specifically a 20 foot ficus tree in the backyard. Today the remodeled 1,750 foot house embraces that tree, with sliding glass walls that open up to the tree for true indoor outdoor living.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

A dog leaps from the house of architect John Frane in Venice.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

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Behind the lens: Ricardo DeArantanha shooting art and architecture

By Ricardo DeArantanha, Los Angeles Times

The Sobieski house in South Pasadena was first described to me as a new and novel kind of home, consisting of a cluster of free-standing buildings connected to the others by outdoor spaces. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as with numerous other houses I am assigned to photograph each year, I find it is best to just dive in and figure things out as I go. I try not to look at any existing photographs, because I want to view the home with a fresh perspective when I see it for the first time.

Upon arrival and before I pull my cameras out of my bag, I like to start with a tour of the house, usually with the homeowner and/or the architect.  In this case, Jamie Sobieski showed me around. As a photographer my eyes are wide open, and I am always seeing, seeing all the possible angles and how the different buildings relate to each other and to the big picture. I also try to figure out how they are connected to one another through the outdoor space. Seeing light and how it fills the space is very important to me. My goal is to capture the architect’s vision and translate that into beautiful imagery, which, in turn, articulates the character and essence of the home. As I am touring the home, I’ll line up shots in my mind, making mental notes along the way as to what angles might make good pictures. I look up and down, scanning every nook and cranny for interesting shots.

These shoots can take hours, and the Sobieski home was no exception. There was plenty to take in. As with any shoot, I like to take my time and not feel rushed. I arrived at the house mid-afternoon and stayed until well after dark. This time gives me the chance to see how the light changes throughout the day and how it illuminates the different parts of the house and its façades. I am constantly moving through the house, retracing my steps to see how the light has changed, how it fills a room and gives it character. It can be quite a workout shooting a home of this scale, and I tend to be very focused and intense when I am working a house.

When photographing homes, I believe it is important to include family members and pets to give the space warmth and life. I seldom return to a house a second time, unless I really need a certain picture under better lighting conditions.

As for camera gear, I usually shoot with two cameras and lenses with focal lengths from 14-mm wide angle to 200-mm telephoto. I use the grid in the viewfinder to help me keep the lines straight. For this particular house, I used bounced strobes to subtly fill in the shadows a few times but mostly relied on natural light and ambient room lights, which I will ask the homeowner to turn on during the initial tour of the place. For some houses with challenging lighting, I will use several strobe heads, car headlights and even flashlights, whatever is the most natural-looking and unobtrusive.

Photographing a home well is not an exact science. It can be very challenging, but I enjoy bringing all the elements together — light, composition, textures and color — to create something magical that readers can connect with.
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View more Los Angeles Times home tours.

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